US abruptly post­pones North Korea talks

State De­part­ment of­fi­cials gave no fur­ther rea­sons for the de­lay to the meet­ing, al­though North Korea has stepped up its de­mands that the United States lift sanctions

Times of Oman - - WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON: US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo on Tues­day abruptly shelved plans to meet a top North Korean of­fi­cial in New York, the lat­est twist in diplo­matic at­tempts to se­cure a po­ten­tially landmark peace deal.

The talks be­tween Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s top diplo­mat and the North Korean del­e­ga­tion, which had been due on Thurs­day, “will now take place at a later date,” State De­part­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert said.

“We will re­con­vene when our re­spec­tive sched­ules per­mit,” she added in a state­ment.

State De­part­ment of­fi­cials gave no fur­ther rea­sons for the de­lay to the meet­ing, al­though North Korea has stepped up its de­mands that the United States lift sanctions.

The State De­part­ment had just one day ear­lier con­firmed that Pom­peo would meet in New York with Kim Yong Chol — one of the North Korean leader’s right-hand men — to dis­cuss progress to­ward a de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion pact and to work to ar­range a sec­ond sum­mit fol­low­ing his­toric talks be­tween Trump and Kim in June.

De­spite warm words from Trump since meet­ing Kim in Sin­ga­pore, his ad­min­is­tra­tion has in­sisted on main­tain­ing pres­sure on Py­ongyang un­til a fi­nal agree­ment is reached.

Sanctions

North Korea said last week that it would “se­ri­ously” con­sider re­turn­ing to a state pol­icy aimed at build­ing nu­clear weapons un­less Wash­ing­ton lifts sanctions.

“The im­prove­ment of re­la­tions and sanctions are in­com­pat­i­ble,” said a state­ment car­ried by the of­fi­cial Korean Cen­tral News Agency.

“What re­mains to be done is the US cor­re­spond­ing re­ply,” it added.

Pom­peo, speak­ing Sun­day on Fox News, said he was “not wor­ried” about the North Korean de­mands and in­sisted there would be “no eco­nomic re­lief un­til we have achieved our ul­ti­mate ob­jec­tive.”

But Yang Moo-jin, a pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of North Korean Stud­ies in Seoul, said that the post­pone­ment was a bad sign.

“This last-minute an­nounce­ment of a de­lay is not a good sig­nal as it in­di­cates ne­go­ti­a­tions were not go­ing well enough to go ahead with the planned meet­ing,” he said.

Pom­peo has trav­elled four times this year to North Korea in hopes of se­cur­ing an ac­cord.

The di­plo­macy comes a year after fears mounted of war, with Trump threat­en­ing “fire and fury” after Py­ongyang’s nu­clear and mis­sile tests.

Trump has cast North Korea as a crown­ing diplo­matic achieve­ment and is eager for a fresh sum­mit with Kim at which the two may for­mally de­clare an end to the 1950-53 Korean War.

North Korea has long sought US recog­ni­tion as a nu­clear state and guar­an­tees for the sur­vival of the gen­er­a­tional Kim regime, which hu­man rights groups con­sider one of the most re­pres­sive in the world.

US crit­ics say that North Korea has yet to make any con­crete con­ces­sions and it has re­jected de­mands for what it de­scribed as its “uni­lat­eral dis­ar­ma­ment”.

Pom­peo’s post­pone­ment of talks came amid emerg­ing dif­fer­ences be­tween Seoul and Wash­ing­ton, which sta­tions 28,500 troops in the South to pro­tect it from its nu­clear-armed neigh­bour.-

- Reuters file photo

TALK­ING TOUGH: US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo, speak­ing Sun­day on Fox News, said he was ‘not wor­ried’ about the North Korean de­mands and in­sisted there would be ‘no eco­nomic re­lief un­til we have achieved our ul­ti­mate ob­jec­tive.’

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